When we hear vinegar, most of us think of foods such as fish & chips, pickles , salt & vinegar crisps and salads. However this inexpensive miracle liquid has a multitude of surprising uses that go beyond food. Vinegar can be used to clean your home, kill weeds, create a health and beauty product, control pests and more. A bottle of 568ml white distilled vinegar can be picked up from the grocery store for as little as 32 pence. Vinegar is a safe, eco-friendly and cheap ingredient that can be used in and around your house.
I usually keep one or two bottles of vinegar in the house, because it’s such an inexpensive kitchen staple with many impressive, versatile uses. There’s actually very little that vinegar can’t do. Hence I’ve compiled a list of genius, environmentally friendly uses for vinegar to prove it!
Let’s ditch the chemical cleaners for a bottle of vinegar!
Find out more about My eco journey & how going eco has saved me money.
1. Extend the life of flowers with vinegar
If you love fresh cut flowers as much as I do, you’d want to enjoy them as long as possible. Thankfully there is a way to prolong the life of the beautiful flowers in your vase.
In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Then add 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a medium sized vase with water, before adding the flowers. Stir the content of the vase to ensure the sugar has dissolved before adding the flowers. The vinegar prevents bacterial growth by lowering the pH levels of the water and the sugar feeds the flowers. Make sure to change the water every few days to keep the flowers fresh for as long as possible.
2. Vinegar as an ant repellant?
If you’re having an ant problem in the property or in the garden, mix one part distilled white vinegar with one part water and spray the ants and the ant infested area. This mixture is safe for us humans. our pets and is free of nasty chemicals. As ants hate the smell, therefore will soon move away.
3. Cat & dog itch relieve
Dogs and cats occasionally get itchy, scaly ears. To relive their itch, dilute 1 tablespoon of vinegar with 4 tablespoons of water. Use the mixture to wipe the pet’s ears with a clean cloth. However if any cuts are visible in the ears, avoid the area with the open wound.
4. Clean sticky scissors
If you have scissors or shears with sticky blades, wipe them down with undiluted distilled vinegar and let them dry. Do not use water to clean the blades, because it could form rust and doesn’t remove sticky residues.
5. Use a rise aid
If you have a dishwasher, you’re probably also using rise aid for cleaner dishes and quicker drying time. Did you know, you can use white vinegar as a natural, rise aid alternative? Your dishes will still dry fast and come out super clean without any water spots on cups and glasses.
Another big plus for making the swap from rise aid to this cheap kitchen staple is that this is free of harsh chemicals. Therefore it’s friendly for the environment.
6. Dishwasher deep cleaner
To ensure the dishwasher is working at peak efficiency, pour one cup full vinegar into an empty dishwasher and run it on a short cycle once to twice a year. Doing this will remove limescale and soap build up in the machine.
Since I’m from the Isle of Wight, we have very hard water. Hence I do this dishwasher maintenance twice a year, as limescale build up very quickly here. If your water isn’t as hard mine, doing the maintenance one a year should be fine.
7. Frost-free windows in the winter
Who doesn’t hate scraping ice off car windows in the winter? If you are always in a rush in the morning to do the school run or go to work, try this. To keep your windows frost free, dilute 3 parts vinegar with 1 part water and spray your windows.
Some people pour vinegar into their wiper reservoir and spray the windscreen that way, but I would not recommend this, because some car parts may get ruined by the acidity.
8. Cat repellant
Are you fed up finding cat poo in your garden? Before you make the decision to buy expensive cat repellant from the garden center or hardware store, try distilled vinegar. Place some cups with undiluted vinegar in the garden to repel cats from your beautiful garden.
Vinegar makes an excellent cat repellant, but be careful that it doesn’t touch your plants, as it kills your beautiful plants. I recommend using bear slug traps and putting the vinegar in these traps, to avoid the concentration of the vinegar from diluting when it rains.
9. DIY fruit fly trap
Do you have pesky fruit flies flying around your fruit bowl?
Fear not, we can make a cheap and quick fruit fly tap. Mix some apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of washing up liquid in a glass. Next get some cling film to cover the glass and secure it with a rubber band. Next poke some small holes into the film for these creatures to get in, but struggle to get out. The tiny insects will be attracted by the smell of the mixture hence try to get into the glass and eventually drown in the liquid.
10. Collar & pit stain remover
Sometimes our shirts can develop unsightly collar and underarm stains from sweating or the use of antiperspirant. Before reaching out for popular stain removal products such as Dr. Beckmann Stain Devils or Vanish Gold Pre Treat Stain Removal Gel, try the good old distilled white vinegar. This method also gets out stains caused by ketchup, grass, tomato sauce and mustard.
Just rub some distilled vinegar into the stains and wash the garment as usual. If you use a tumble drying to dry your clothing, make sure that the stain has come out, if not the heat from the dryer will bake the stain in. Instead re-treat the garment with vinegar and dry the item in the sun as this will bleach out the yellow sweat marks.
11. Eco-friendly carpet stain remover
To make an effective carpet stain remover mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of vinegar to create a paste. To apply the paste, use a dry cloth to rub the paste into the stain and let it set for two to three days before hoovering.
12. DIY earth-friendly leather shoe cleaner
Mix equal parts of water and vinegar to make your own green shoe cleaner. To clean leather shoes use a cotton rag to dab the solution onto the shoe and gently rub it over the whole shoe. Then let your shoes dry. To clean suede shoes, follow the steps above but use a nylon-bristle brush instead of a cotton rag.
13. Make your own all purpose cleaning spray
There are many lovely plant based multipurpose cleaners on the market such as Method Multi Surface Cleaner and Ocean Saver Multi Surface Cleaner, however these can be expensive. Save money and still enjoy cleaning your home with a eco-friendly cleaner, by making your own?
To make your own all purpose cleaning spray, mix one part distilled white vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Don’t like the scent? Just add a scent, add 10-20 drops of any essential oil. I recommend using lemon or orange essential oil as these are great at cutting grease and controlling odours.
14. Brighten up leather furniture
Is your leather sofa looking a bit dull? To bring back it’s luster, mix equal parts white vinegar with boiled linseed oil well in a reusable glass bottle or recycled spray bottle. Shake the bottle and spray the leather furniture and use a clean soft cloth to spread it all over the leather. Then leave it for 5 minutes before rubbing it off with a clean cloth.
15. Natural & clarifying hair treatment
This old and trusted home remedy is praised by many for it’s effectiveness in dissolving hair product buildup, while leaving your hair with an amazing shine. Why buy expensive clarifying shampoos, when you can DIY your own that cost you next to nothing and is chemical free? Simply combine 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of white or apple vinegar. After shampooing your hair, towel dry and pour the mixture on your head. Massage it into the roots to the ends and let it work it’s magic for 5 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it out. Then condition as you usually would.
16. Easily remove soap scum
Fed up scrubbing tough soap scum off your bathtub or glass shower doors? Use neat distilled white vinegar to wipe the bath and shower doors to remove any water stains and soap scum, leave them sparking clean. If the grime is tough, add a little baking soda and vinegar to your cleaning sponge. When vinegar and baking soda are mixed, will cause it to fizz, but makes it easier to wipe the dirt away.
17. How to remove limescale deposits from your shower heads
Is your shower head clogged with limescale and gunk? Unscrew the shower head and place it 1 litre of boiling water with 1/2 cup distilled water for 20 minutes. If your shower head is made of plastic, use hot water instead of boiling hot water. Once it has been left to soak, the limescale blockage should be gone. Rinse the shower head before reattaching. Before using the shower head let water run through for a few minutes.
18. A handy chrome and stainless steel cleaner
There is no need to buy a special stainless steel cleaner such as Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish, when you can use undiluted white vinegar on chrome and stainless steel fixtures around your home. Apply and buff off with a polishing cloth or microfibre cloth to bring out the shine.
19. Remove stubborn stickers and decals
Remove stubborn stickers from painted furniture and painted walls, by painting it with several laters of undiluted distilled white vinegar. Make sure the corners and sides of the sticker are saturated. Let it soak in for approximately 5 minutes. Then carefully scrape it off using a plastic card such as an expired credit card. To get rid of any sticky remains, apply some more vinegar and wipe away after 1 to 2 minutes. This is also superb for removing price tag stickers or any other stickers from glass, glossy surfaces and plastic.
20. Cheap & effective coffee machine cleaner
Build up of minerals and coffee oil can alter the taste of your favourite coffee. Hence it’s important to clean your coffee machine every 3 to 6 months.
If you are due to clean your coffeemaker, mix 2 cups of white vinegar and 1 cup water. Pour the mixture into the water chamber of your coffee maker and let it run through. For Nespresso coffee machines, make sure your machine is in descaling mode. Then let it run through just like you would with a Nespresso descaling kit. The next step is to run your coffee maker for 2 full cycles with clean water.
I personally prefer using citric acid instead of vinegar, which is also a cheap, natural and effective descaler. Since ever I’ve been using citric acid, I’ve stopped buying the chemical loaded ,expensive descaling kit from Nespresso.
21. Remove rust!
Do you have any rusty tools in the shed? Before you plan to replace them with new tools, try renewing the rusty tools.
Soak the rusty tools in undiluted distilled white vinegar for several days. Once the rust dissolves, rinse and dry the tool before use. This method can also be used to remove rust from bolts and screws.
22. Deep clean your washing machine
Deep clean your washing machine at least every 3 months to ensure the machine is working at its best. This will deodorise your washing machine from funky smells, prevent limescale build up, disinfect and clean out soap scum. Do this by pouring 2 cups of distilled white vinegar in to the washing machine and run it empty on the hottest cycle. Voila your washing machine as good as new.
23. Banish the odour of smoke
If you’ve recently burned some food or trying to get rid of cigarette smoke, try placing a shallow bowl with distilled white vinegar infused with orange peel in the room where it stinks the most for a day. The icky scent should be gone after a day, if not use some of the orange peel infused vinegar from the bowl to wipe surfaces with a cloth.
24. Test your soils for excess alkalinity
Are you trying to determine whether your soil is very alkaline or not? Simply put a handful of soil into a container and add 1/2 a cup of white vinegar. If it starts fizzing or bubbling up, it’s too alkaline. Add some sulphur to your soil to make it more pH neutral.
25. Clean and unclog drains
Before you purchase a drain cleaner that’s harmful to us and animals such as Mr Muscle Drain Gel, try this nontoxic and cheap alternative.
Pour 1/2 a cup of baking soda into the plug, then 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. This will fizz, bubble and foam. Wait for an hour, then flush the drain with boiling hot water. After approximately 5 minutes rinse it with cold water.
26. Vinegar the natural weed killer
If your question is: will vinegar kill weeds? The answer is yes. Therefore there is no need to buy chemical loaded weed killers to kill off unsightly weeds. Vinegar is strong enough to kill weeds. Plus vinegar is a lot cheaper, safe and eco-friendly. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the weeds with vinegar. If you’re trying to kill off weeds that sprout up from cracks on your drive, after spraying the weeds with vinegar, pour some vinegar into the crack to kill off the roots of the weeds. This is best done on a dry, sunny day. If it rains after an application, respray the weeds once dry.
When using this super acidic liquid, make sure not to recklessly spray the vinegar around the garden, as it is a natural herbicide that can also kill plants that you like.
27. How to make an eco-friendly window cleaner with vinegar
Vinegar can help you achieve streak-free, sparkly windows. Simply mix one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle and use this instead of a shop bought window cleaner. If you’re not keen on the vinegary smell, add 10-20 drops of essential oil.
When I make my own window cleaner, I love adding 20 drops peppermint essential oil. It smells so fresh and is also a natural insect repellant.
28. Deep clean your microwave with vinegar
Spills and splatters are hard to avoid in the microwave. Before you start scrubbing the microwave, loosen the grime to make cleaning a breeze.
Fill an Angry Mama or a glass bowl with equal parts of water and white vinegar. Then place it into the microwave. Zap the mixture for 5 minutes or until it boils on the highest power setting. Leave the bowl to cool in the microwave with the microwave door closed for at least 5 minutes. This allows the steam to soften up the dirt. Grab a sponge or cloth, dip it into the liquid and wipe away the grime.
29. Easy DIY bathroom cleaner using vinegar
Get your porcelain skinks and bathtubs shining again by giving them a good scrub with neat white vinegar and rinse with water after.
30. How to white grout with vinegar
To brighten the grout between your floor or wall tiles, simply dip an old toothbrush in full-strength white vinegar and scrub away.
31. Disinfect and clean toilet bowls with vinegar
Run out of toilet bleach or just want a natural toilet disinfectant? No problem!
Pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bow and leave it overnight, before flushing. By doing this weekly, it also helps to prevent water rings from forming just above the water level.
32. How to clean off bird poo with vinegar
Are birds attacking your driveway and patio with poo? To loosen the dried bird droppings, spray them with full strength distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Let it soak in for 10 minutes before wiping them off or spraying them with a hose.
33. Protect your dog from fleas and ticks with vinegar
Why spend silly money on popular flea and tick treatments such as Frontline Spot On, when vinegar is much kinder to your pocket and just as effective. To make your own flea and tick protection spray, fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts of water and vinegar. Shake the bottle before use and apply it on the dogs coat. Finally evenly rub it into the dog’s coat.
This will also also work on cats, but you may find it difficult to apply the solution on cats as they hate the smell of vinegar.
34. How to polish silver with vinegar
Is your silverware or silver jewellery starting to look dull? Get your tarnished silver to look like new by soaking them in a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar with 2 tablespoon of baking soda for three hours. After the silver has been left to soak, rinse under cold water dry with a soft cloth.
If you’ve found this post useful check out the many uses of citric acid, vaseline and coconut oil to help you save money or live a little greener.